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Now Hiring: Program Associate

Join an experienced grantmaking team at an established community foundation.  The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois (CFNIL) is organized to be a catalyst for giving in order to attract, preserve, and grow an endowment for the current and future needs of the residents of Boone, Ogle, Stephenson, and Winnebago Counties of Illinois.  CFNIL awarded 711 grants and scholarships last year worth more than $3.5 million.

89% of CFNIL’s total assets are permanently endowed.  This allows CFNIL to focus on continually supporting people, projects, and programs for the benefit of our region.

As program associate you will function at the heart of CFNIL’s grantmaking processes, becoming deeply engaged with good people and good works throughout the 4-county area.  You will report to the Community Investment Director and work cross-functionally within the Community Investment Team and with the rest of the CFNIL team.

The ideal candidate will be both people- and process-oriented with excellent reasoning, computer, and communication skills.  Please submit your resume and a letter of application via email to Sarah Lambert, Community Investment Director, at  (No phone calls please.)  Tell us why a job in community philanthropy is right for you and why you are right for the job.


Reports To:    Community Investment Director

Work Week: 40 Hours/Week

Primary Purpose

The Program Associate is responsible for the administration of CFNIL’s grant and scholarship processes. The Program Associate ensures that the grant programs are efficient; compliant with the law and CFNIL policy; fulfill the intentions of CFNIL’s donors; and achieve CFNIL’s community investment strategy. The Program Associate ensures that grant and scholarship processes align with CFNIL’s donor service, finance, development, and communication departments, and with CFNIL’s mission.

Principal Duties and Responsibilities

Administer Grant and Scholarship Processes:

  • Administer grant processes, from accepting grant applications to evaluating finished projects and all points in between.
  • Keep abreast of best practices and research emerging thought in the grantmaking and scholarship fields.
  • Assist the Community Investment Director and Program Director with:
    • Creating and maintaining clear guidelines that state what CFNIL funds.
    • Creating and maintaining clear guidelines that state how CFNIL evaluates applications and proposals.
    • Creating and maintaining online and hard copy grant applications.
  • Configure CFNIL’s grant processing software and other software applications for efficiency, and provide technical assistance to external users of CFNIL’s Web Portal.
  • Work with Community Investment Director, Program Director, and Director of Systems on continuous improvement of all grant and scholarship processes.
  • Oversee CFNIL’s youth philanthropy program.

Implement Grant Processes:

  • Issue invitations to propose.
  • Review, analyze and conduct due diligence on proposals.
  • Use grantseeker feedback to clarify CFNIL’s funding priorities and application procedures.
  • Present written/oral analyses of grant requests in support of proposal review.
  • Recruit, train, and facilitatecommunity advisors and trustees in the proposal review and approval process.
  • Manage the post-award process, including obtaining grant agreements; requesting grant payments from the Finance Department; and obtaining progress and final reports from grantees.
  • Evaluate and report post-grant performance.
  • Recommend improvements in grant evaluation criteria and grant processes.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.

Core Competencies:

  • Engage in meetings with grantees, donors, co-workers, committee members and other community members. Ensure the completion of action items stemming from those meetings.
  • Ability to work within a team and/or independently as necessary.
  • Analyze information in support of an evaluation process, including communicating findings from data.
  • Ability to write and speak clearly.
  • Ability to formulate and execute plans.
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office suite – especially Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.
  • Ability to master and troubleshoot CFNIL’s grantmaking software.
  • Manage multiple duties and tasks.
  • Ability to self-start and take initiative.
  • Ability to manage relationships and communicate with a wide variety of constituents, including scholarship and grant applicants; education professionals; donors; volunteers; and students.


  • 4-year degree or two-year degree with equivalent work experience.
  • Experience using business software applications to track constituents and process transactions. Experience with Blackbaud software preferred, but not required.
  • This position requires objectivity and confidentiality.
  • This position requires frequent and routine communication with grantseekers, community program partners, and fellow staff members, including direct one-on-one exchange; printed and electronic messages, documents, and materials; group discussions; and public presentations.
  • The position requires the use of standard business equipment including computers, copiers, printers, and mailing equipment.
  • The position requires the setup, hosting, and cleanup of public events hosted by the Foundation.
  • The position requires occasional work on weekends.

The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois is an equal opportunity employer.

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